Google Co-Founder Admits to Caving in to Chinese Demands For Censorship

There’s an old saying in business: money talks and, well, something that comes out of a male cow walks. In the case of Google, it appears that dollar signs, regardless of the foreign or domestic nature of the currency involved, have been more important than principle in some of its business dealings.

To be more specific, one of Google’s co-founders has admitted that his company caved in to demands from Chinese leaders to censor information available through its search engine to Chinese citizens in exchange for, well, yuan…which is dollars to you and me. As reported by the Associated Press: “Google Inc. co-founder Sergey Brin acknowledged Tuesday the dominant Internet company has compromised its principles by accommodating Chinese censorship demands.”

As Dorfman said in “Animal House,” boy this is great!

The article continued: “Google's China-approved Web service omits politically sensitive information that might be retrieved during Internet searches, such as details about the 1989 suppression of political unrest in Tiananmen Square. Its agreement with China has provoked considerable criticism from human rights groups.”

Curiously, this seems to go against one of  the “Ten things Google has found to be true” as expressed in its corporate philosophy statement: “You can make money without doing evil.” 

But here’s the coup de grace: “‘Perhaps now the principled approach makes more sense,’ Brin said.”

Perhaps now? So, Sergey, are you suggesting that Google has been avoiding the principled approach in its business dealings since its inception up to this point?

Hold on a second. Let me write this date down. On June 7, 2006, one of Google’s founders stated, “Perhaps now the principled approach makes more sense.”

Ah. I feel better. Yet, the exciting denouement was still to come (emphasis definitely mine):

“‘It's perfectly reasonable to do something different, to say, 'Look, we're going to stand by the principle against censorship and we won't actually operate there.' That's an alternate path,’ Brin said. ‘It's not where we chose to go right now, but I can sort of see how people came to different conclusions about doing the right thing.’"

Hmmm. I wonder how this sudden change of heart might impact Google’s other censorship issues discussed here, here, and here?

I’m verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves. 

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Noel Sheppard's picture